Chris Lowery is an entrepreneur, father and husband. After fleeing Portugal in 1975 during the Revolution of Carnations he decided to pen the Angolan Clan. The Angolan Clan is a book filled with mystery, intrigue, murder, history an diamonds as it follows two young women as they uncover a series of unexplained deaths across the globe.
We were luky enough to have a few minutes to speak with Chris about the book and his inspirations.
When did you decide you were going to be an author?
I’m not sure it was a conscious decision, like many writers there has always been a pressing need to let the words out. I just kept them tucked away longer than most as my priority has always been first and foremost to provide for my family. Once the future was secure it gave me an opportunity to go back to the inspiration that is the past and develop words in a more formal way and for a larger audience.
Have you always written? If so what type of things, stories, poems etc?
I actually started by creating stories for my daughter – it helped me engage with her, particularly as I have always been involved in high pressure business. It is always vital to make time for the family and the creation and telling of those stories gave me an important connection to home. I’m also a glutton for limericks there is something very simple yet challenging about the form that provides a good test for any writer.
Do you have a favourite author and why that person?
Frederick Forsyth is an incredible thriller writer – seamlessly blending action, characterisation, globally expansive plots, and always with such intricacies of storyline. I’m also a big fan of John Buchan’s 39 Steps, as it’s an example of the perfectly plotted thriller and good inspiration when you’re grappling with a complex mystery across three continents! I also like the fact that both authors aren’t afraid to include strong female characters.
What process do you go through when preparing for a book?
Much of the process is given over to memory, experience and facts, and balancing that with imagination. Sometimes it feels impossible because you know that someone, somewhere, will always have a unique and accurate take on what actually happened, versus what actually happened PLUS the author’s imagination. As a writer there’s a danger you can become so obsessed with the facts you lose the dynamics of the story. One of the biggest challenges of writing a thriller is keeping track of all the various storyline strands. I have to keep reminding myself what time it is in Africa and what time it is in Spain!
Do have a set routine when writing?
As I get older and the business concerns take more of a back seat it’s less chaotic and snatched and I’m now setting aside ‘writing time’. It’s not disciplined and structured though, it’s very much a mood thing, and I can write very quickly when I’ve got the time and the story is demanding to be told. Writing is a balance to the other aspects of my life.
Do you have any advice for budding authors?
It’s an oft used phrase, but write what you know. You’ll be amazed what comes out!
What helps you focus?
That if I want to be published I have to write not just for me, but for everyone. It’s hard putting aside that control to develop a story you think can appeal to complete strangers. As an entrepreneur I’m used to driving everything forward, to making it what I want it to be – to be published you have to consider the readers, you have to learn not to write selfishly. That’s tougher than it sounds but makes for an exciting and challenging creative process.
What inspires your work?
Always life. The Angolan Clan is taken directly from my own experiences of the Portuguese revolution. Fortunately my own experience of the revolution was less dramatic than the characters in the book. I was actually on business in Geneva when the chairman of the company I was working for in Portugal called me and said they were putting everyone in jail – and that I was on the ‘hitlist’ to be imprisoned as soon as I returned. My wife and daughter had to flee (with the dog!) as capitalists, particularly foreign entrepreneurs, were very much persona non grata with the newly installed powers. I’d always felt that experience, and the subsequent events around the world such as the Angolan civil war, would make for an amazing story. My next title, The Rwandan Hostage, is set in a difficult and horrific period in Africa’s modern history. The beginning of the story is the death of the president of Rwanda and the subsequent genocide. The first book has a particular ending, which leads to the second book, and several of the characters are the same. I believe readers like the comfort of knowing who the characters are and where they came from, but they are all driven by real experience.